The retail release of The Walking Dead won 2012 Game of the Year honors from Metacritic with a Metascore of 95 out of 100, and while it was undeniably a great year for games, the review-aggregating site noted in its 2012 round-up that last year's top-scoring titles didn't reach the same heights as in previous years.
None of the five individual Walking Dead episodes scored higher than an 89, and the disc-based collection was one of only 14 console games and 18 non-iOS titles overall to reach the "universal acclaim" threshold Metascore of 90. In 2011, 23 console titles and 32 games overall achieved a 90 Metascore; 2012's total is the lowest since Metacritic began publishing year-end reports in 2009. And with a 95 Metascore, The Walking Dead is the lowest-scoring Game of the Year winner (i.e., the worst-reviewed best-reviewed game of the year) since the PC version of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City took top honors in 2004.
Metacritic pointed out an increased level of glitches and bugs as a possible reason for lower-scoring 2012 reviews; the Walking Dead disc release, for example, suffers from a number of serious issues, and its digital counterparts didn't fare much better.
Here's Metacritic's platform-by-platform breakdown of the year's best games:
Best Game: The Walking Dead, 95
Best Exclusive: Trials Evolution, 90
Best Game: Mass Effect 3, 93
Best Exclusive: Journey, 92
Best Game: Mass Effect 3: Special Edition, 87
Best Exclusive: New Super Mario Bros. U, 84
Best Game: Xenoblade Chronicles, 92
Best Exclusive: Xenoblade Chronicles, 92
Best Game: Dishonored, 91
Best Exclusive: Guild Wars 2, 90
Best Game: Colors! 3D, 89
Best Exclusive: Colors! 3D, 89
Best Game: Pokémon Black Version 2, 81
Best Exclusive: Pokémon Black Version 2, 81
Best Game: Persona 4 Golden, 94
Best Exclusive: LittleBigPlanet PS Vita, 87
Best Game: Velocity, 87
Best Exclusive: Velocity, 87
Check out Metacritic for more metrics and analysis of 2012's top titles.